Ah, the great American pastime of camping. The persistent smell of campfire smoke in your hair and clothes for weeks, the bodily injuries that linger, the true test of a family’s ability to get along and work together without killing each other.
Our camping adventure began well enough. We were all raring to go, and pulled out with my brother-in-law’s pick-up truck, fully loaded 196? camper trailer behind. Yep, each year that thing becomes more priceless- to be still fully functional at its age, with no maintenance whatsoever on it, year after year. You catching my drift?
So, almost 80 miles into the trip, it’s still early morning. We’re all having fun in the car. The kids are reading magazines and playing on the latest techno-gadgets to pass time. I am chatting and reading. The sun is coming up over The Gorge, and it’s going to be a beautiful day. Away now from the misty mountains of the coastal range, it’s starting to feel like a real summer day. The temperature is about 80 now, and it’s still only 8:30-9.
We start climbing. A chime in the cockpit sounds- the “CHECK GAUGES” light has come on. Our temperature reading is sky-high. We pulled over, checked everything out, could not readily determine a problem, and just sat and waited for the truck to cool. This began the pattern for whole trip, but my husband also very good-heartedly managed to change/remove the thermostat, change out the water pump, and ultimately the radiator, all during this trip. This involved many stops along the highway, many ‘cooling breaks” as my stepdaughter described them, and turned an 8 hour trip into a 15. The radiator didn’t get fixed until the first day at camp, but that’s a separate story. So, before we finally gave up on getting to camp that night, we were driving through an amazing electrical storm in eastern Oregon. The area is high and dry , and a lot of times these lightning strikes cause brush and wildfires. The show was spectacular and a little scary, but not as scary as the “Whack- thump, thump,swerve, whack thump” of a trailer tire blowing. So, on the side of the highway, my amazing husband and mother-in-law jacked up the trailer and put the spare tire on the camper trailer.
We were all exhausted by the time they had finished. It was nearing 10:30, and we had left home at 5:30 a.m. We stayed at a decent Holiday Inn Express, all taking turns getting showered.
The next day, we left early, to travel most when the temperature outside was still at its coolest, and despite getting hot, we didn’t have to stop too often, and when we did, we made the best of it. We pulled the camp chairs and coolers out – and had snacks and drinks on the side of the road. We had great views and quite a few nice people offered to help. We told them thanks, but we just had to wait to cool down. Our last stop was near a really nice flowing creek. We all played in it a bit and cooled off. The dog loved it, too. I actually shaved my legs with lotion, creek water, and a towel on the side of the road, ignoring the taunts of “wow, how redneck can you get”, that were aimed my way. ‘Hey- I am making lemonade out of lemons, just like YOU SAID, so never mind!”.
The next few days of camping were a mixture of great fun and torture combined. I am still waiting for my knee canyon to heal- I took quite the spill on my bike race through the marina parking lot, hit a curb too hard, and splatted. The lump on my head is gone, but the road rash from Hell and knee gouge remain.
Everyone was tested to keep their stamina and sanity throughout the trip, but nobody killed anybody else. I have to say that it took me a good 4-5 days of work to rest up from vacation…
Next year, I am thinking Spa Retreat…